sealPurdue Letter from the President

July, 1999

The approach of fall brings a rush of activities every year, but 1999 seems to have more intensity than any previous time. Perhaps we are hurrying to clean up the details of the waning millennium.

Here are some of the things that promise to make the rest of this year very exciting at Purdue:

  • Enrollment boom:  Student interest in Purdue is at an all-time high. We are anticipating enrollment increases throughout the Purdue system. On the West Lafayette campus, a record number of students will arrive for the start of classes on August 23. The University is taking a number of steps to assure a smooth transition for students, faculty, and staff. For example, an agreement with Greater Lafayette's bus service will allow all students to ride free anywhere in the bus transit system, simply by showing their student identification cards. Also, expanded service in the campus area will make it much easier for students to commute to classes and to travel on and around the campus. We hope the new service will reduce traffic and parking problems for everyone.

    Another new service will allow phone access to the University computing system from off-campus locations. Students, faculty, and staff will be able to use the service at no cost to them. This initiative is designed to reduce the need for students to come to campus to work on assignments that require computer access.

  • Astronaut reunion:  Twenty-one Purdue graduates have been selected for space flight since the start of the Mercury program in the early 1960s. Two of them -- Roger Chaffee and Gus Grissom -- died in an accident while training for the Apollo 1 mission. Purdue has invited the surviving 19 for a reunion the weekend of October 22-23. Their response has been overwhelmingly positive, just as it was in 1985 when we hosted a similar reunion. That time the Purdue astronaut group numbered 15, and all of them attended.

    For the 1999 event, the astronauts will take part in our President's Council annual meeting and will attend the Purdue-Penn State football game. Some of them will teach classes for returning alumni on space-related topics. We also hope to help Neil Armstrong celebrate the 30th anniversary of his historic walk on the moon.

    We expect this reunion to be the largest gathering of astronauts in Purdue history, and several high-level NASA officials have expressed an interest in attending. It should be a memorable weekend!

  • Economic development:  Purdue has increased its efforts to support state economic development. Under the leadership of Don K. Gentry, who is my special assistant in this area, in addition to his duties as dean of the School of Technology, Purdue is having a significant impact in a number of areas. On August 25, with the help of Governor Frank O'Bannon, we will dedicate the Purdue Technology Center, the newest small business incubator in the Purdue Research Park.

    The incubators offer a friendly environment that allows new high-technology firms to grow and gain strength. By providing low-cost, flexible space, shared resources, and the support of Purdue expertise, the incubators give these new and promising businesses a chance to get off the ground while minimizing their financial investment. Firms that become successful eventually move on to conventional facilities and become contributing parts of the state economy, providing new jobs and other economic benefits.

    Another important initiative is a new World Wide Web page called "Connect Indiana." Developed by Jeff Gunsher, assistant director of the Office of Industry Research and Technology Programs in the Purdue Research Foundation, the Web page provides firms with easy access to the University's huge supply of support systems for business and industry. Located at, the site will be a tremendous resource for companies that take advantage of it.

  • Athletics:  A lot of sports activity takes place in the fall, but there's no denying that football gets the most attention. This will be an exciting and important season for Coach Joe Tiller and his team. Because of the remarkable success they have achieved in the past two years, the national spotlight is focused more intensely on the Boilermakers than at any time in my memory.

    The goal of fielding competitive teams that maintain high academic standards and play by the rules has never changed, but I have to admit that the high level of performance Coach Tiller and his staff have brought to Purdue makes Saturdays a lot of fun for everyone.

    Summer has not been quiet at Purdue, but fall will bring a change of gears. We are ready and eager for the new academic year.

    Steven C. Beering